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  CSPAN    U.S. Senate    News/Business.  

    January 31, 2013
    9:00 - 12:00pm EST  

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so i'm not sure there's a magic, you know, bio here in washington that can be set perfectly. >> what about a carbon tax? >> well, it works out to be similar. i think, what is it? for every $10, it's about 10 cents a gallon, 8 cents a gallon for gasoline. so it's another tax. i just think we have to be very careful because it affects consumers so broadly, and there are unintended consequences. at the same time these advanced technology vehicles, as tom brought up, hybrids are going to have to compete with better and better conventional vehicles, and batter in electric cars, will have to compete with better and better hybrids. it becomes very difficult.
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it's helpful when the our market signals saying this is what society values. society values reducing carbon, therefore, therefore the there's a path, therefore there is an incentive or something like that. but very difficult to actually implement in a way that has become fair and balanced. >> i know that auto countries have been working to show that there's a very direct correlation between high gasoline prices and the selling of more fuel-efficient cars, hybrids, electric cars. and that's political "inconvenient truth" in the high gasoline prices help within gasoline prices help of in the direction of the most of the memo energy secretary steven chu said at the beginning of obama's term. we need to find someway to gasoline prices as high as europe. he's been criticized by republicans ever since. would you agree that is come of course politically inconvenient but also an open secret? >> i wouldn't say that.
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don't forget that the first thing that happens when prices go up is people downsize. they get smaller vehicles, and that's not a vote for more technology. or a shift to different fuels. it's kind of reality. so don't forget consumers have incredible -- that's hard job is to provide them with a choice, with good products that meet their needs. but it's, the idea that we're going to final consumers into some policy driven choices here i think is a little overly optimistic. >> i would add to this as well, the other half of the equation, the other half of the question is what can we do as automakers?
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you know, trying to innovate, trying to reduce costs, trying to develop new technologies, compete with one another, you know, to get the cost of these technologies down to the extent we can is certainly the other half of the equation and we been doing that for decades and decades, i and will keep doing t for decades and decades. but it is a tough -- the other side of equation on the policy side is really tough because there are all the all of these issues, a factor gdp with higher fuel prices. with his back to the fans technology, i think when fuel prices go up and gdp is good, you are more likely to see people in advanced technology to address high fuel prices. but as fuel prices go up and their sustained outage is going to affect gdp, or if fuel prices go up in gdb is not great then you may see more of a shift towards downsizing, as robert said. so complex deals. >> please be thinking of questions you would like to ask
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the panel is. i will be opening it up in a few minutes. i do want to talk about one fuel we have a brought up by now was discussed in pretty good cdo in the previous panel, biofuels. the renewable fuel standard is coming under some criticism among some interest groups and, of course, legal battles continue over epa's decision for the 15 waiver meaning 15% of ethanol can be blended into gasoline. where do you see biofuels fading into the transportation equation and it could also talk about corn-based ethanol which is where most of the criticism is coming, and then advanced biofuels that are having a hard time penetrating the market. >> well look, you've got biofuels that come from food, maybe not so good. biofuels that come from nonfood sources, that's better.
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and biofuels that are from non-fuel sources that are dropping, dropping fuels. we think there's a good opportunity for the transition, not just from ethanol, but really from ethanol to the bio butanol's, which will go into the fuel system and be transparent to the automobile. when we went from leaded gasoline to unleaded gasoline, there was a lot of focus on rethinking mis- fueling. and i think industry is very concerned that there's not enough attention that's been paid to make sure that we don't have mis- fueling that affects consumers and end up with problems in the existing fleet existing fleet is a couple hundred million cars.
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it's not just cars. there's generators and lawnmowers and motorcycles and on and off-road activity, atvs and so forth. and epa approved e-15 for a very small portion of the on road vehicles. and there's some question about them. so i think the clear direction should be towards drop-in fuels. and i think that it's very possible, and i think we'll hear more about those in the future. >> do you have any comments about that? >> i support that. i think that it has a huge role in the future of, we keep mentioning lower carbon fuels as something that's important as we try to achieve overall longer-term carbon reduction in transportation.
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to get there, you can't just keep on using fossil fuels and leisure going to extract carbon and put it back. that's difficult. so what about different processes using different food stocks to give us low carbon fuels, and then into the market. i think the potential for having jobs in every state of new, sustainable renewable fuel creation jobs in every state in this unit should be a top priority. i'm curious as to why we can't get that going. you might want to look at congress, maybe it's too hard of a vote. we think there's a strong will for the. we think the technologies as mentioned in a previous panel, we think technologies, the doors open. we've been engaged with a company that we think has done a demonstration. we are not supporting a company that we're supporting the pursuit of processes that move was to sell you lost the production. we think the government needs to
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stay on track to encourage alternative fuel development. the easiest thing for the whole marketplace itself a drop in to sustain infrastructure we use now. and that's not out of sight. that's just a little ways in the future. >> i think what of the most overlooked part of the conversation is the fact that the first and foremost goal of automakers is to make a car that is safe. do you ever see any conflicts or hard balancing act to make sure you build a car that is safe while also trying to meet these fuel economy standards? any comments on that? >> yeah, i guess i will jump in. yeah, so safety is first party for all auto manufacturers. there is a tension between, particularly in terms of weight, adding weight to vehicles for various safety features, not
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only regulations demand but also the consumers want and demand. and the weight is a very important factor in trying to improve fuel economy of the vehicles. i think fundamentally from toyotas of you, you can do both. you can have efficiency, lower carbon and safe vehicles. i think the key is the pace at which these two issues are progressed, with respect to one another. so, you know, having a mid \50{l1}s{l0}\'50{l1}s{l0} fuel economy car in 2025 communism is there a long enough time to think that we can engineer vehicles, including the safety future that will be acquired in a way that these vehicles will be safe or for people to drive? i think it comes down to balancing sort of the timing with which we are doing these things.
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to make sure the fuel economy reductions if you'll don't get so far out from what's feasible from the safety side that you run into conflict there. but given that the right amount of lead time which i think we have right now, i think we can do both. >> we've been working hard on making sure that weight reduction doesn't impact safety. i think, you, weight in and of itself doesn't help you in a crash. think of having five pounds of sand in your trunk. doesn't help in the crash? not really. it depends on how the structure, the safety cages designed. and we are using more and more high-strength steel and other materials to both lighten the weight and also make vehicles safe. a lot of top safety picks and
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five star vehicles in our fleet. and we are constantly improving and working on the weight reduction. and i think that, the other thing, most of us are trying to keep our cars out of crashes come and it's not just the path of safety of what happens when you get into an accident, but avoiding those accident in the first place. you're seeing a lot of innovation in the area of, whether it is lame assist or collision mitigation, advanced braking systems where you're using radar and so forth. so i think there's just a lot of innovation that is going to happen in this field. and i really expect that cars are getting safer and safer. >> do we have any questions from the audience? we have microphones going
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around. and please stay to your a with and the question is directed to any particular expert. >> i'm with you national wildlife federation. just a quick question to the whole panel about what we are seeing innovation on a supply chain on how maybe automakers are working with the rest of the industries. >> innovation and entrepreneurs, that's what drives this business. we would like to think that we're still vertically integrated to be the smart people on the planet, but as we recognize this, there's a lot of smart people out there. we try to leverage every aspect that we can get. it's part -- is extremely important. they are in to talk to us daily. >> i really think the publication of these regulations, again, the long-term nature of them have spurred an incredible amount of innovation.
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at honda, and throughout our supply chain, people are looking for every advantage they can, because there are challenges that are so great. everybody who has an idea on how to reduce the workload of the car in terms of lighting, for example, are getting, a lot of ideas there. and if you go to, for example, we just finished the detroit auto show and there were some technology suppliers on the floor of the show out there showing some of their advanced technology towards weight reduction and fuel efficiency, and safety. so it's a really vibrant part of the economy. >> i would add, in addition to the supply chain per se is just the whole nation of collaboration. you know, you are seeing a lot
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more manufacturing and manufacturing collaboration, and toyota has partnerships on our route for the electric. with moss on a small vehicle production in mexico. unit come with ford on hybrid systems for trucks. with bmw on fuel cells and other technology. so i think that's another result of the landscape that we are seeing. the drive to reduce costs, to improve scale, and spread these costs out among a greater number of vehicles in the field. so i think it's another key aspect. >> a question over there. >> hi. bob, advanced biofuels u.s.a. given the fact that the fuel economy standards really are not fuel economy standards but asked our co2 reduction standards, building upon what you said
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previously about trying to get more fuels into the market would seem to be a way to actually achieve the gas standards so if you're going forward in a mid course correction, 40 miles per gallon with total renewable meets the goal anyway. so i'd like to get you comments on that. and also given the fact that a new turbocharged engine really need higher combustion and high octane, do you have any thoughts as to the whole panel, on having the new suit fuel through tier three that would have the higher octane? >> your points are excellent ones. i think i try to address that. so to be clear, we support the pursuit of the tropics can be properly processed, not just arbitrary just produce dropping but we have to do that open minded laid to reduce carbon's.
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and possibly throughout the lifecycle the creation and distribution. if we do it that way, that would address a part of the equation that has not yet taken care of through policy or regulation. to be specific and aim at a design fuel with a specific octane, that is as dangerous as saying carbon tax. yet, we would, we could do better with better design fuels, that's for sure. octane is a very important parameter, but what we need most is we need to have a very narrowly specified fuel so we can optimize to that fuel. it doesn't make that much difference on octane if we can improve maybe not as much but we could at least optimize engine performance which is something we can do now in the united states. >> i agree that my one concern
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is that to the extent we have a specified fuel that we designed and optimized vehicles around, that fuel needs to be available in the market. you know, so there's talk of a various higher level, whether they be alcohol, ethanol blends or others to increase octane in fuels to allow to design around that octane and fuel economy, if you're talking high ethanol blend rates, you better have that fuel available or else you will see really high gasoline prices or wafers, and then you'll have vehicles operating on sub optimal fuels in the market. spent a question over here. >> ron, green car journal. the discussion about hydrogen as a future fuel, robert, i know honda has had the civic gx and now the natural gas, 2012 green car of the year since it was an assembly line produced study in
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what, 98? you are standing alone with a passenger cars powered by natural gas. honda has talked for a long time about cng to h2, the transition from using a gaseous natural gas fuel to gaseous hydrogen. what's it going to take to get to that point? i mean, you have the clarity. a wonderful car. like the natural gas, but the transition to hydrogen fuel, given consumers, putting infrastructure together, what are we looking at to make it realistic? >> so as was said earlier, natural gas is a great feedstock for hydrogen. hydrogen can be made in so may different ways. you know, one of the favorite ideas is intimate wind power at night which can be converted to electricity to hydrogen. there's all kinds of ways to make hydrogen. the problem is twofold.
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it's the infrastructure and it's getting the cost down. they are very promising vehicles, and costs are coming down, but it's challenging. i think most of the industry sees that there is a great opportunity starting to formalize in california. there's a proposal therefore the state to help build an infrastructure of up to about 100 stations of hydrogen. and we think that that's going to be the right mix for automakers to bring forth higher volume in commercial volumes of fuel cell vehicles, probably in the 15-17 timeframe is the infrastructure can materialize. so i think we're optimistic about it. we are very supportive of the
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bills in california to fund those stations. right now there's just a handful of stations out of there, and more planned but, frankly, until we see that strong signal, it's hard to kind of get the momentum behind it. >> a question over here. >> i'm doctor sam hancock of emerald planet, emerald planet tv and i really want to follow-up on the last two questions. you look at the continued warming of the planet, climate change. what is the intersect between manufacturers, industry, government and the consumers as far as addressing this to say it's a reality that is coming on very fast and definitely by 2050. so how does that fit into your plans of new café standards? >> let me just take a stab at that.
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if you look at the goal of reducing power transportation to co2 by dramatically, say 80%, by 2050, then the big impact has to be felt in the new car fleet because the new car fleet eventually turns over and becomes a part of the carpark. and actually wear these standards are for 2025 -- where these standards are for 2025 are on a path towards that goal. and i think that in many ways, customers do not have to be aware of this. we have an industry. we have policies that are driving us along that path now,
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but i think in the future, as we get to the more stringent parts of those curves where at least today it looks it's going to be more expensive to meet those, i think in the future we're going to absolutely have to have broad support. if you don't have consumer support you can't make the policy, and you certainly can't have vehicles that people will respond to. but i think for the near term, we are on a path that is going to be very helpful, is certainly the first few steps, and isn't taking a lot of, is in asking a lot of consumers today. >> we have time for one more question. >> john with washington auto show. a couple years ago at our show,
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mike jackson -- thank you. mike jackson, the ceo of automation declared what he called a moment of truth. i think we've all been talking about both in the first panel and the second panel today. and a moment of truth is as he describes it is, when the consumer comes into the showroom floor and don chalmers when his analogy earlier mentioned this, the greenest of the green person who wants to be a patriot, wants to get us off of the petroleum standard looks at the combustion engine, look at the alternative it in vehicle, and when they see the price difference, for just being green, remembers that he's a capitalist and goes for the cheaper vehicle. do any of you, as manufacturers, i recognize you're not economists, have any sort of percentage of fleet penetration where all of the alternative energy products kind of have a
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watershed moment where your costs are able to b be afraid sh as they come more in line with combustion engines, and that's the point at which all of these technologies become more viable? >> that's a tough question. i'm not sure there's a single answer in terms of the technology. let me say this, and i apologize if it doesn't directly answer this, i will let each gentleman tried to answer it. what i wanted to say is, you know, my opening comment talked about toyota's hybrid strategy. and in 2012, calendar year, 16% of our toyota fleet sold in the u.s. was hybrid. it has taken 12 years, 12 to 13 years for us to get to that level. hybrids are a key part of our business now. they are a key contributor to our business. and i don't, i don't know that,
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you know, what that says about other technologies, such as electrification or hydrogen or other so-called alternative events of technology, but that's one sort of thorny point i think, and barometer. the industry itself is still only just over 3% of that technology. and there's a long way to go they're still. >> you know, it's -- let's look back a little bit. you know, 40 years ago, 40 years ago cars were polluting come in terms of smog, about 1000 times more than they do today. and they got about, in real world terms, maybe half the fuel
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economy that they get today. and now we are looking forward from here and saying where are we going. well, we sold an incredible problem. that tailpipe emissions are nothing short of revolutionary. and that was done with, to a large extent, and visibly to the consumer. and that i think from honda's viewpoint, we are very optimistic. it's very challenging. we don't expect there to be any technology as an incredible as the catalytic converter to come along and take care of carbon, but there is a portfolio of technologies in the showroom today from a wide variety of
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manufacturers. i mean, 10 years ago it would have been very hard to go in and have the variety of choices that these are very green customers could choose from. and today, there's a lot more products. i don't think that's what you start. i think innovation is going to be, is going to be -- in fact innovation is always what consumers expect when they come to the showroom and buy a new car. i think that in the next 10, 15 years we're going to see a lot more clarity. american consumers are focusing, and it may be in ways that we don't expect. for example, when you drive a vehicle that has an electric motor instead of an engine, it has different performance characteristics. it's fun to drive. is lively. it has a lot of low-end torque. so i think there may be
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attributes for these new vehicles that are more important to consumers than their environmental attributes. then we've got a polls in the market, and a lot of problems get solved if i think we've got to be optimistic, keep working hard, get costs down and continued to innovate. >> well, i think that sounds like a good final word. i want to thank our panelists for being here, and paul will come up for some concluding remarks. [applause] >> from almost the founding you see utility rates decline. and by the time -- >> we were right around 2.2. event immediately after this, the second world war we had the only major incidents. that's the baby boom. that's the term which gets us. it really was a remarkable
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moment. it's not only get to leave rates, as high as 3.7 i think for white americans and 3.9 i think a black america and. not only did it jump up but it stood up for an entire generation. it was a long lasting impact. people would change the way they live for generations. and then by 1970 that momentum, that moment ended and when the saw not a gradual flow down the road the fertility rate dropping off a cliff. >> jonathan last about changing demographics and birth rates could cost the u.s. to lose its place as a world leader. sunday night at nine eastern on after words on c-span2. look for more booktv online, like us on facebook. >> the u.s. senate is about to gavel in. after leader remarks, the senate will consider a bill to suspend the debt limit until may 19 of issue. at 12:15 p.m. eastern the chamber will vote and then
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recess until 2:15 p.m. for caucus meeting to when they returned will be more votes and the minutes and final passage of the debt limit bill. also is a provision that would suspend members of sounds of either the house or the senate hasn't adopted a budget by april 15. the house did pass the bill back on january 23. now live to the senate floor here on c-span2.
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the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. almighty god whose attributes are both majestic and manifold,
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strengthen our senators, enabling them to live this day to the fullest. give them the humility to be more concerned about being on your side than assuming that you're on their side. may they combine confrontation and compromise, as they work together to find solutions for our national problems. lord, help them to give precedence to palestinian over party, as they seek to honor you with their lives. today, fill this legislative chamber with your presence, so that your will will be done on earth, even as it is done in
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heaven. we pray in your merciful name. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington, d.c, january 31, 2013. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing
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rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable harry reid, a senator from the state of nevada, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: patrick j. leahy, president pro tempore. the presiding officer: the senator from kentucky. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, the majority leader has suggested that i go ahead, and, therefore, i will. yesterday we learned that our economy contracted for the first time in more than three years.
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this news comes of course after president obama spent an entire election promising americans that a return to robust economic growth was right around the corner and a little more than a week after the president said in his inaugural address that economic recovery had begun. i'm not so sure the people of kentucky would agree with that assessment, given that the unemployment rate there is still above 5% -- excuse me, above 8%. but this isn't the first or the second time this white house has oversold the recovery. it's not even the third or fourth time. a lot of us remember the summer of recovery. a lot of us also remember when the vice president promised that the stimulus would literally dropkick us out of the recession. look, if the white house spent nearly as much time trying to actually fix the economy as it
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did claiming it was fixed and then finding excuses and scapegoats when its premature pronouncements turned out to be facialtion i suspect the economy would actually be doing better than it is today. but the president seems not to have learned at that lesson because just yesterday he tried to pin the latest negative economic news on congressional republicans once again. well, the president can make any excuse he wants, but it's not going to help americans find jobs. one thing the president could have done instead of wasting so much time blaming others would have been to convene the jobs council he created amidst so much fanfare. he hasn't done that for more than a year. in fact, from what i understand the council is expected to actually disband today after having met only four times since 2011. we've had four years of the
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almost economy. it hasn't worked. this would be the time to try something new. but the president seems content to simply double down on more of the same. he wants to spend more, which would only worsen our trillion-dollar deficits; and the very same president who warned against raising taxes in a down economy is proposing to raise taxes in a down economy. he's clearly getting a big assist on that front from the chairwoman of the budget committee, who says she's going to include tax hikes in the senate democrats' budget plan. that's a bad enough idea to begin with, but it's especially counterproductive considering yesterday's dismal growth numbers. because there are two things we know about tax increases for sure: first, they reduce jobs and hurt economic growth, and, second, they distract us from addressing the real problem, which is spending.
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as i've explained repeatedly on the floor over the past two weeks, government spending is completely out of control. completely out of control. it's projected to get much worse in years to come. even if the president got the additional tax increases he's asking for, we still wouldn't even come close -- not even close -- to solving the problem. and we certainly we need to get there by wasting time on poll-tested p.r. gimmicks that will hardly bring in any revenue. every minute the administration spends talking about corporate jets is one less minute we have to discuss serious ways to confront the challenges we face. clearly it's the spending we've to deal with. and now is the perfect time to do so. the key to robust recovery is freeing the private sector to grow and to create jobs. we can do that by making government more efficient, by reforming spending, and by
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eliminating programs that don't work, which happen to be the very same things we need to do to get our fiscal house in order. economic growth and debt reduction can actually go hand in hand, but only if we pursue the right policies. so as a first step, let's stop making things worse than they already are, threatening families and business with even more job-killing tax hikes is clearly counterproductive and so is trying to borrow more money from china to fund more failed stimulus packages. the president and his allies have had four years -- four -- to put their ideas into practice. those policies have failed. it's time for a new approach, and if democrats are ready to fine amly get serioused to en the blame game and pursue real growth poms, then republicans are here to show them the way forward to a stronger economy and to a more secure future.
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the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: mr. president, following leader remarks, the senate will begin consideration of h.r. 3 it 5, the debt limit legislation. the time until 12:15 will be equally divided and controlled. at 12 faff there will be a roll call vote in relation to the port man amendment. following that, the reces the sl recess until 2:15 for caucus meetings. at 2:15 there will be as many as five additional roll call votes. mr. president, just a brief comment on my friend, the republican leader's, statement. he continues bad-mouthing the recovery. we are in a recovery. the moral of the fourth quarter is a repudiation of the republican playbook. growth went down in the fourth quarter because of reduced government spending. and a resonance of the private sector sector as congress fought
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over the fiscal cliff. that fight came as a result of the republicans being so unreasonable. we were finally able to work something out that was a k3r078 compromise and that was good for the economy. let's hope the republicans will understand that we have to move forward, that the republican playbook of continually complaining about spending is something we know we have to do something with spending, we understand that. but there's more to making our economy recover than just continually harping on what's going on with spending. mr. president, everyone recognizes that we have to do something with spending. we also have to do something to have a fair program. is it really fair that to this point all of the spending cuts have come from non-defense spending?
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the answer is "no." is it fair that the republicans continue to want to go after social security, medicare, even food substance tha stamps, thate poorest of the poor? let's start talking about fairness. even romney said there are loopholes that should be closed. we agree with mitt romney. we would hope the republicans would agree with their nominee for president. that's what we hope to do, to have a fair approach to sequestration and balancing the budget. later today the senate will vote on the house-passed legislation to suspend the debt ceiling until the summer and remove the specter of default hanging over the nation's economy. i suspect this will pass sending the message long and clear that while we're willing to negotiate on many things, we will not engay inch in another -- engage in another irresponsible debate
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over whether the united states government should pay its bills. most of my republican colleagues voted for the spending. what are some of those bills we've incurred? mr. president, we've had two wars going on that have been unpaid for with real money. we borrowed the money p. every republican voted for these wars. so we should pay our bills. i was reassured by house republicans' decision last week to back off their reckless threat to hold the debt ceiling hostage. dosuspending the debt limit will ensure we pay the bills we've already incurred. the legislation before the senate sets an important precedent that the full fanal and credit of the -- the full faith and credit of the united states will no longer be used as a pawn to extracts cuts from
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medicare, medicaid, or other initiatives that best the middle class. a clean debt increase should be the standard. congress will continue to work to reduce the deficit but will do it without the threat of default. weaver already made $2.5 trillion in historic bipartisan deficit reduction. $2.5 trillion. democrats believe we should do more. it's critical that we use a balanced approach that couples smart spending cuts with revenue from the wealthiest americans and from closing the wasteful tax loopholes that i've just talked about. obviously, democrats would prefer a longer suspension of the debt ceiling which will provide additional economic security and stability as we continue to find ways to decrease the deficit. raising the possibility that the united states could default on its obligations every few months is not an ideal way to run government, but a short-term solution is better than another imminent manufactured crisis. every republican admit that
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default would rock our financial system to its core. however, injecting uncertainty in the system every few months also has a chilling effect on the economy. this insecurity doesn't just affect big investment banks or wealthy investors. it costs jobs. all around the country, ordinary americans with 401-k's and college savings accounts are affected. i'm glad republicans set aside their plan to gamble with default. it was bad politics and even worse policy. middle-class americans remember the last time republicans put us through a protracted fight over the debt ceiling in an effort to force deep cuts to social security, medicare and other programs important to the middle class. middle-class americans, remember how the tea party driven republicans forced the nation to the brink of default in 2011, sending the stock market into a tailspin and prompting a
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historic downgrade of america's credit rating. middle-class americans remember how the economy suffered and our bottom line suffered with it. middle-class americans remember the consequences of republicans' willingness to threaten a national default. i'm relieved that this time congress was able to reach a compromise and avoid a fight so middle-class families can get the certainty they badly need. would the chair announce the business of the day? the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to the consideration of h.r. 325, which the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 7, h.r. 325, an act to assure the complete and timely payment of the obligations of the united states government until may 19, 2013, and for other purposes. the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. hatch: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call: mr. hatch: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. hatch: i ask the quorum call be rescinded, and i ask that the quorum call time be equally divided between the majority and minority. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. hatch: and i suggest the absence of a quorum again. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president, i ask that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. baucus: thanks to steven spielberg, there's renewed interest in abraham lincoln. during one of the most critical times in american history, lincoln face add nation divided by ideology and war. today we are in an ideological
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divide. too often congress fails to agree on key social and economic issues. politics is winning out over progress. like the america of the 1860's, the unwillingness to compromise has crippled our ability to move forward as a nation. as we discuss america's fiscal responsibility today, i'd like to shairt words of lincoln -- share the words of link congress. "you cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by vetting it today. " as a nation we have the responsibility to pay our bills and it is a responsibility we cannot evade. as we know, the federal government hit its current authorizing limit, the debt ceiling, on december 31, 2012. over the past month the treasury secretary has been using extraordinary measures to continue funding the government and sending out social security checks and veterans' benefits.
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the treasury's action only is for a limited time. the debt limit deadline was moved from decembe december 31 o mid-february or early march. however, on january 23, the house of representatives approved a plan to ensure america can meet our obligations through may 18. the bill, h.r. 325, which we have before us today, also provides an incentive for action on the federal budget. the legislation includes a provision that would withhold the pay of lawmakers if either the house or the senate -- in the house or the senate if their chamber fails to pass a budget blueprint by april 15. since 1917, congress has always taken appropriate action to avoid defaulting on america's bills. we must continue to fulfill our responsibility. we must not fail now.
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there's too much at stake. failure to pass this bill will set off an unpredictable financial plummeting that would plunge not only the united states but much of the world back into recession and more. every single american would feel the economic impact. there would be radical cuts in military salaries, veterans' program, social security benefits and education. tax refunds may not be issued, and our country's credit rating would almost certainly be downgraded. significantly. i understand the concern over america's deficit and debt. i share those concerns, and i stronglstrong believe we must da plan to get america's fiscal house in order. let me remind you, over the past two years we have made real progress cutting deficits and debt. and we've done so working together across the aisle. in 2011, we passed $1.4 trillion
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in spending cuts and earlier this month congress passed legislation that reduced the deficit by another $600 billion. together, with interest savings, these two actions will cut the deficit by about $2.50 trillion over the next ten years. toad this, the savings from winding down the wars in iraq and afghanistan and the savings to america's federal budget reached almost $3.5 trillion over ten years. altogether, $3.5 trillion over ten years which we've already done and are doing as a consequence of winding down the wars in iraq and afghanistan. that is real progress. in the coming weeks we'll have to confront the deficit issue again when sequestration of spending programs starts 0en march 1. march 27, the day of the continuing resolution for aeptioappropriations expires, bs
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tough choices. that is why we're here, to make sufficient decisions and do the hard work. mr. president, the threat of defaulting on our fiscal obligations is extremely dangerous. it puts america on unstable ground. we all remember how political brinksmanship in 2011 led to the first ever downgrade of our country's credit rating. it sent shock waves in the stock markets and nearly crashed the american economy. we have the opportunity today to avoid that calamity. we have the opportunity today to avoid another destructive budget battle. h.r. 325 ensures america can meet our obligations through may 18 and provides the congress with a necessary calm between fiscal storms. the house of representatives adopted the bill by a bipartisan vote, 285-144. and it is sparded b supported be
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administration. this bill before us is is necessary for to remove the threat of default. it gives us time to continue to work together on a sensible, balanced solution to our nation's fiscal challenges without undermining the nation's economy. it deserves our support in the united states senate. i congratulate speaker boehner on his leadership with regard to this issue and the house for its bipartisan approach to a tough but necessary vote. let us pass this legislation today and move on to debate over what further deficit-reduction options need to keep america's economy moving forward. in the words of lincoln, "the occasion is piled high with difficulty and we must rise with the occasion." thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. hatch: mr. president, right now the federal debt stands at roughly $16.4 trilli
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trillion. i don't know how anyone can hear that number and not be appalled. nor do i believe there's been -- there will be over ten years $2.5 trillion in deficit reduction. in fact, i don't see any deficit reduction except perhaps bringing our soldiers back. but that's not particularly deficit reduction, since it looks like we're going to have difficulty maintaining the military in the -- with the strength that it's had in the past. think about it. $16.4 trillion -- that's incredible. the federal government is currently operating with just $25 million of so-called head room you understanroom underneay debt limit. we're told that we reached the debt limit at the beginning of the year and in order for the government to pay for obstacles without further borrowing, the
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treasury has been using so-called "extraordinary measures" such as changing the financing. the use of measures has become the norm under this administration and under this senate majority where budget and debt considerations are made through last-minute closed-door deals. i don't think the american people can stomach another "cliff" scenario. i don't think they want to turn on the news and see another clock counting down. there is a better way to legislate p. i'm not asking some -- i'm not talking about some novel or unheard of apromot approach. i'm talking about doing things through the regular order. anyone watching the senate operate over the last few years probably doesn't know what i'm talking about, but there is a process that be established to facilitate compromise and move even controversial pieces of legislation over the finish
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line. under this process, bills are assign to committees where they are debated and discussed in hearings and markups. committees are able to consider and process proposals before legislation it brought to the senate floor. while this system isn't perfect, moving a bill through commit greatly improves -- through committee greatly improves its prospect for passage in a divided senate. now, this isn't mean meant to ba civic lesson. but as we debate yet another major piece of legislation that hasn't gone through committee, i don't think a reminder is out of order. we need to return the senate to regular order, which includes processing budgets through the senate budget committee and processing the debt limit through the senate finance committee. we're told that if we pass this legislation, the administration will be able to borrow to pay off incoming obligations until may 1. then presumably we'll be back to the use of -- quote -- "extraordinary measures" --
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unquote -- which as i understand it will get the government through the end of july before we're once again talking about a possible default. that's not the way to run a government o prospects of more debt limit impasses and threats of future defaults serve only to elevate uncertainty among the people as to whether the federal government will honor its financial obligations. unfortunately, this administration has continued to play on this uncertainty for political purposes. rather than working with congress to resolve our fiscal mess, the president throws out suggestions that social security recipients won't receive their benefits or that our troops won't get paid. indeed, it seems that the president is more interested in engaging in political fights and manufacturing straw men than he is in eliminating threats to the financial security of our
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nation's seniors and our troops. at the same time, we wait for the first senate budget in four years. i was heartened when i heard the news that the democratic leadership plans to move forward with a budget this year. however, i am disappointed by indications that no effort will be made in the budget to rein in our unsucces unsustainable entit programs. i know that is not true because, to borrow a phrase from the president, "we can't wait." entitlement reform can't wait. even the trustees of social security and medicare have stated that the entitlements are unsustainable and they urge quick action. and those trustees include senior officials in the obama administration who could hardly be viewed as deficit hawks. mr. president, these are the problems our nation faces. our fiscal and economic well-being literally hang in the balance of these debates. and if the senate is going to be up to the challenge of fixing
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these problems, we're going to have to start doing things differently. we shouldn't wait until the nation's finances reach another -- yet another cliff sometime this summer before we start talking again and addressing our unsustainable fiscal situation. that's not what the american people want to see and that's not the direct we should be going. i believe my colleague from montana feels the same way, that we can start the talks now in committees and do the things that we should in committee and report bills to the floor that even if we can't support them, at least they'll be done the right way. a return to regular order would provide a potential solution, but it would require that we begin work immediately and that we don't just wait until the last minute and then have these decisions made in the office of the majority leader. 00 fen we were teven if we were to pass the stop-pass
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suspension measure before us, there is precious little time for us to act. i have suggested and will continue to suggest that the senate finance committee begin to engage in a longer-term debt limit sliewsmtion the bill -- d. the if we go through regular order, we have only a few months at best to debate, have hearings, process proposals, and make decisions. i'm not under any illusions that this process would be easy or will be easy, but if we want to avoid another cliff scenario in late july, this is the best way to go forward. it is the best path forward. we don't need anymore last-minute deals to avoid going over the cliff. or going over any cliffs. we certainly don't need anymore countdowns of threats. and we don't need to wait in hopes that president obama will finally break his string of
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failures to arrive at a so-called grand bargain. we have the tools at our disposal to address these problems. but we have to start now, immediately. as the ranking member of the senate finance committee, i'm committed to wor working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to reach a long-term solution on debt limit, and i believe this process can putes on a path to tax and entitlement reform, which is the key to righting our nation's fiscal course and putting us on a better economic footing. mr. president, the measure before us is not a long-term solution to the debt ceiling or our fiscal predicament, nor is it intended to be. i am not convinced that, if we want a long-term solution and if we want to avoid facing yet another cliff, we need to restore regular order in the senate. i think anything short of that is not going 0 work. we have good people on both sides of the aisle, meme love --
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people who love this country, people who really can work together if they will. we have committees set up to take care of these problems, but they're being bypassed. we've got to find ways of working through the committees where you have a number of people on both sides who have to deal with the uncertainties and the problems and the difficulties in these fiscal matters. i have confidence in our chairman, in his leadership, and i know this is not his fault. i think he would prefer regular order, as would i. it puts a lot more burden on us as committee members, but that's where it ought to be, and we ought to be able to face these problems, and we have excellent people on both sides on the finance committee, and i would like to see the finance committee do its work and have the confidence that really we ought to have in it and get this
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done in a proper manner, in the right way before we have to go off a fiscal cliff again or before we have to be faced with a fiscal cliff. mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. portman: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. portman: mr. president, i have two amendments at the desk. i would ask for their immediate
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consideration en bloc. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the amendments. the clerk: the senator from ohio, mr. portman, proposes en bloc amendments numbered 6 and 7. mr. portman: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the reading of the amendments be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. portman: thank you, mr. president. i rise today to offer first a commonsense amendment to begin to address our nation's unprecedented national debt that's hurting jobs and our economy today and is placing a moral burden on our kids and our grandkids. this is called the dollar-for-dollar deficit reduction act. it ensures that every time we raise the debt limit, we cut spending by the same amount over a ten-year period. we all know the growth of the national debt is not sustainable. in the past four years, our national debt has risen by $6 trillion. it is projected to add another $9 trillion over the next decade. these numbers are huge, too big really to comprehend, so let's put it this way. if we don't do something, we're
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really in trouble. between the end of 2008 and 2022, so nine years from now, the average household share of the national debt will have risen from $90,000 a household to $160,000 a household. that's how big the debt's gotten. today it's about $130,000 per household. so we know we need to do something. democrats and republicans alike talk about it a lot. the debt limit is an opportunity to have this debate. future decades are of course going to bring even more debt. with the congressional budget office, which is a nonpartisan group here in congress, now projecting that the debt will top 200% of our economy in 25 years. again, this is unprecedented. it's about 100% of our economy right now. and by the way, those projections that it will be 200% of our economy in 25 years, it's a pretty rosy scenario because it assumes that we'll have peace
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and prosperity and relatively low interest rates. i think we can all agree that saddling our children and our grandchildren with this enormous debt is not just bad economics, it is immoral. in reining in the debt, the congressional budget office makes clear that spending is the driving force. when you look at the future deficits, it's spending that really is creating the major problem. according to the congressional budget office, again, revenues will surpass their historic average, which is about 18% of our economy, as soon as the economy begins to recover. spending, which has been historically 20% of our economy, has already jumped to over 23% of our economy and is projected to rise to 30%, 40%, 50% of g.d.p. over the next several decades. so clearly, we have a spending problem. the amendment we have got today will ensure that the debt limit increases are matched with equal
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cuts in federal program spending over the next ten years, so for a decade. there are no gimmicks, no timing shifts, but these would be real cuts in the growth of federal spending. this chart shows what the results of this would be for the country. the top lines are spending. this is the blue lines. the bottom line, the red line is revenue. so here we are today 2013. again, the spending as a percent of our economy is just over 23%. if we continue to go the way we're going, what will happen is based on these relatively rosy scenarios about our future, you'll see a dip in the spending as a percent of our economy, and then it goes right back up and then quickly begins to climb further from that over coming decades. revenues, again under the current scenario, continue to grow to the point where they go above the historic 18%. here it indicates that by 2022,
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they would be at 19.1%. spending under the proposal we have got before you today, this amendment, the dollar for dollar, goes to 19.6%. so just about at the 20% historic average. this of course means that you're very close to balance, and it means, again, that there is a reasonable result to this which ends up with spending being very close to the historic average, revenue coming up above its historic ranch, and gettin avers back on track, so we can have a stronger economy, so that we can have the kind of robust recovery we all hope for, bring back the jobs, and so we are not leaving to our kids and grandkids such an enormous debt and deficit. we would still have a small deficit, and this would be positioning the deficit to get to barks becaus balance, because relatively small. if enacted, the result is about $3 trillion in savings over the
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next decade. this is roughly consistent with what other groups have talked about, the simpson-bowles commission and others. given the $34 trillion in projected spending over the next decade, this $3 trillion should not be too much to ask. simply limiting spending growth to about 3% per year would accomplish this same result. so that's slings what's being required -- so that's essentially what's being required here, when you say there will be a dollar-for-dollar reduction. the result is by 2022, the deficit will fall to less than 1% of g.d.p., very close to balance. the debt would be declining as well and declines to the point where, according to the simpson-bowles commission and others, you would be 60%-some of the economy, which many view as
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having stablized our debt. it actually declines by about 19 points as a percent of the economy from where it is at its peak in terms of our debt. so future generations would be spared this crushing debt and the economic stagnation we would otherwise face if washington does nothing. some may contend that the debt limit is the wrong place to have this debate. i've heard that a lot as i've been promoting this idea. i have to disagree with that. the debt limit is about all that has worked. the debt limit is not just about paying past bills. it also presents an opportunity to talk about the future. it's not about, as the president often says, paying our past bills. those should be paid. it's about what bills we're going to rack up going forward. we have to make a change here. if we don't, the country headed towards bankruptcy. furthermore, neither every significant deficit-reduction
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bill over the past 28 years has been linked to the debt limit. in fact, i would say every single one of the significant deficit-reduction packages in the last few decades has been linked to the debt limit. it's all that's worked around here. in 1985, there were some members in the senate today who were here then. they will tell you that the gramm-rudman-hollings bill that came out of the senate helped to reduce the deficit. it was atafd to what? a -- it was attached to what? a debt limit bill. since that time it the try larges-- thethree large of the t reduction packages, including the 1 1997 balanced budget act were all linked to a debt limb discussion. so it's really all that has worked. statutory paygo which a lot of democrats were very supportive of -- that was in 2010. that came out of a debt-limit discussion. final lurks the debt limit was the impetus for the budget
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control act just two years ago where this congress made a commitment to save $2.1 trillion over the decade, so just two years ago we agreed to this dollar-for-dollar provision and it was done as part of the debt limit. as we discussed the dollar-for-dollar amendment pending today, we have to remember that this is really where the idea came from. dollar-for-dollar came out of the budget control act. so for folks who attempt to label this as too aggressive or without precedent, remember the dollar-for-dollar legislation passed only two years ago with 95 democrat votes in the house and 45 of the 51 democrats here in the senate voting "yes." so the idea certainly has precedent, and given the results we talked about earlier, it is a commonsense way to address the debt-limit debate today or and in the future. by the way, it wouldn't pl woulo
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the first debt limit extension. this would apply to the debt limit extension that we all hope will be a longer-term agreement, including as the chair and rank member of the finance committee just talked about, working together to solve these problems. this would provide the impetus to do that. so whether that's in three months or as some are suggesting, six months from now, given the fact that the treasury will be able to use some authorities to be able to extend the debt limit, that's when this would be apply. this would no apply to this short--- it would not apply to this short-term limit. the debt limit is also an important tool for deficit reduction because it's all we've had. when you think about it we haven't had budgets. the only recent restraint came in the context of the debt limit, the dollar-for-dollar r reductions in the debt control
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act. i understand the majority is committed to passing a budget in the senate this year. i commend 24e78 for that. i hope -- i commend them for that. i i hope they will. in the absence of a budget, the fact remains that the debt limit hack the effective tool that we've used. by the way, the tax cut also remains that now -- the fact also remains that now nearly two-thirds of all spend something not even suggest the tsubject tothe budget. it is the mandatory spending. even if we have a budget, which i hope we do, still the debit limit is the most likely way for us to get at the bigger picture since 62% of spend something on auto pilot or mandatory and not subject to the annual appropriations process that would be part of the budget agreement. this iagreement common sense sells us that while
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washington pays its past bill, it has also got to take steps to reduce its future bills. based on one poll that i saw, 72% of americans agree that when you increase the debt limit, it should be matched by equal cuts, dollar for dollar. 72% of americans. it's common sense. we did it two years ago. it leads us to a result that seems reasonable. the revenues are going to go up based on the c.b.o. projections here and we get to virtually a balance over ten years if we put this in place. with the permitting of about 3% growth of spending every year. so this is not an unreasonable result. it is a sensible solution. congress did it a couple years ago. i hope my colleagues will join me on a bipartisan basis to say that with regard to the longer--term debt limit extension we're facing, somewhere in the three- to six-month period, we put in place this discipline and allow
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the committees to do their work. we should go comeback to regular order. the finance committee chairman has midthis point repeatedly. so has the ranking member, other members have. tweendz have hearings, an open -- we need to have hearings, an open process. i would don't need these last-minute bills that people haven't had a chance to read. this would put news thew position knowing that we have this discipline in place, we can achieve this, we must achieve this for the sake of our kids and grandkids. i urge my colleagues to support it. i now would like to offer a second amendment of i have been asked to offer these two amendments together. the second amendment is another idea because it doesn't have to do with the debt limit per se but it has to do with how we avoid government shutdowns. this is bipartisan legislation and it is a bipartisan idea who i believe -- whose time has come. every year since 1997, and in
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all but two years since 1985, congress has reached the october 1 fiscal year end without doing all the appropriations bills. think about that. every year since 1997, we've been unable to reach agreement on all the appropriations bills and only which is to since 1985 have we ended up the fiscal year with having all the appropriations bills done. what does this result in? well, some years there's been a relatively quick vote on what's called a continuing resolution to continue government spending in those areas where we haven't completed our work. on other years, the result has been a real showdown with the threat of a government shutdown, and then in some years we've had an actual government shutdown. in fact it's happened way too often. and the reason is that, again, we haven't been able to come together as republicans and democrats, house and the senate, working with the president to put forward these appropriations bills in regular order, and so we face these shutdowns and we actually have faced some
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last-minute budget bills, many of which again are full of prices because members haven't had -- surprises because members haven't had a chance to read it, staff haven't had a chance to rerue it. during the shutdowns when we've had them, it's created real problems. americans hoping to travel abroad find their passport applications can'ting processed. the senators centers for disease control, c.d.c., cease disease prevalence. families going on vacation to national parks find their destination is closed. irthink we should avoid those shutdowns. some make the reasonable argument that these shutdowns are an acceptable price to pay because they lead to spending cuts. blue icuts but in fact as i loot the opposite has occurred. the 1996 shu shutdown produced h
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a large backlash, that a the although aband donned spending restrained altogether. after that shut down, non-defense discretionary spending nearly doubled over the next decade. so it seems to me like the case for spending restraint was harmed, not helped, by the shutdown. understand that last-minute budget bill that usually results from the threat of a government shutdown tends to have a lot of surprises in it. it is a real problem because over the years congress has found itself just hours away from a budget shutdown, often forced to vote on these huge bills, 1,000-plus page bills. omnibus spending bill that folks have not had a chance to read. our staffs haven't sufficiently reviewed. it is not the fault of ow appropriations committee who do their best under tight deadlines. i think it is the fault of these artificial deadlines themselves. so with hundreds of billions of dollars at stake, we could all use more time. to better understand what we're
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voting on. this bipartisan amendment would solve these problems. for all regular programs or activities, this appropriations bill has not been approved, whether it is all the bills or one bill, the end government shutdown act would continuing the current level of spending automatically. no significant disruption, no crisis for citizens, no furloughed employees. yet we don't want these continuing resolutions to take the pressure off lawmakers to complete their work. after 120 days there would be a 1% reduction in spending. it would be across the board in a remain knowal year because the new fiscal year is october 1, this would mean members had until january 9 to complete their work on the appropriations bills. this aye should washington fail to come to an agreement on the continuing resolution, which comes up at the end of the next month, washington fails to do
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that, spending would remain at whatever the current level of spending is for those first 120 days. under this amendment, after the 120-day period, spending levels in any remaining unfinished bills would continue to be reduced across the board 1% every 0eu9 days. i -- every 90 days. i think the appropriators of the house and senate would come together. but every 90 days there would be an additional 1% until the appropriations bills or the year-long resolution has been enacted. these are designinged to keep both sides at the bargaining table. they aren't so small as to be irrelevant, but they're not so large as to cut 234eu programs. priorities of both republicans and democrats would be subject to the same across-the-board cuts. and both parties therefore would have an incentive to come to an agreement that fully funds priority programs and reduces funding for lower priorities. this bipartisan amendment may
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not be each lawmaker's idea of perfect. it is not mine smed i would rather get all the appropriations bills done. but that's not what's happening. but we should all agree that it improves upon the current situation where we bounce from crisis to crisis, worried about government shutdowns as well as to rush bills to avoid shutdowns much the american people want us to complete our work in a logical way. and this amendment helps us to do that. mr. president, i urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this commonsense bipartisan approach. mr. president, i see other members are now on the floor. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from montana. mr. baucus: i see the senator from pennsylvania on the floor. does he wish to speak on his amendment? otherwise i was going to speak on the first amendment by senator portman. too many timed a like to speak on my mr. toomey: i'd like to speak on my amendment at this time. i have an amendment at the desk and ask for its consideration.
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the presiding officer: the clerk will report the amendment. ms. mikulski: if the clerk would hold, after he speaks, the senator from montana will speak. and after he speaks, i ask that i be recognized after the gentleman from montana. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. without objection, the pending amendment is set aside. the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: the senator from pennsylvania, mr. toomey, proposes an amendment number 8. mr. toomey: so, mr. president, i -- the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. toomey: thank you. i'd like to address the substance of this amendment but let me start with a little context on this underlying bill. the underlying bill, of course, suspends the debt ceiling from now until may 18. what that means is that in the meantime, the administration will be able to borrow as much
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money as it wants, within certain constraints, but a very, very large sum of money over the next three and a half months, at which point the debt ceiling will be reinstituted at a higher level. we expect the government will probably borrow something on the order of $400 billion between now and such time as the debt ceiling is re-established. we have got $16.4 trillion in debt today, so by the time the debt ceiling is reapplied, rei am posed, it will just under $17 trillion. now, at that point, we will be right back to the standoff that we were at very recently, standoff over what to do about this massive amount of debt we already have and the massive amount of additional debt that the administration would like to create. now, the administration's position is very clear. they want additional borrowing authority with no strings
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attached, no conditions, no limits on future spending. they just want to be able to keep borrowing. some on our side of the aisle feel very strongly that any increase in the debt ceiling that authorized still more borrowing needs to be accompanied with some measure of spending discipline so that we can at some point begin to regain control over these out-of-control deficits and the debt. well, in any case, what we know for sure is this tension will re-emerge and that we don't have a resolution in place now, and if this measure passes -- which very likely it will and it will be signed into law -- we have just kicked this can down the road until may, maybe june or july at the most, but we surely will be back at this point where we're having this argument. here's what else we know. we know that tax revenue, ongoing tax revenue coming into the government's coffers are going to be about 75% of all the money the government's planning to spend in the coming year, likely to spend, and since 75%
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doesn't cover everything, the other 25% is meant to be borrowed, and therein lies the necessity of raising the debt ceiling precisely to fund the difference between all that the government wants to spend and the tax revenue that's going to happen. and it's important to note, by the way, that raising this debt ceiling is not about paying for past bills incurred. i know that's repeated around here all the time. it's totally untrue. we have a funding for the appropriations process that expires at the end of march. there is no appropriation that's in place going forward. the debt ceiling increased the authority to borrow more money -- increase, the authority to borrow more money is all about future spending, which is part of the reason why some of us think this is a very sensible moment to try to bring some discipline to that future spending. and what would happen if we don't raise the debt ceiling right away? well, if we don't, we would have
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to have a 25% cut in all government spending, and that's -- that's pretty massive. that's pretty problematic. now, the administration and some actually go way overboard in the threats that they attach to this. they threaten to inflict the maximum possible economic damage if the debt ceiling isn't raised promptly upon the point at which they run out of their maneuvering room. so you hear threats about default on our debt and senior citizens won't get their social security check and our military folks won't get paid, all kinds of the most disruptive, most damaging and most dangerous kinds of outcomes are threatened by the administration. now, this is unnecessary, this isn't true, this isn't what would happen, but there is an incentive, of course, to try to scare and intimidate republicans into giving the administration the unconditional ability to just keep on borrowing and
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spending as they have been doing, and that's why we hear this. well, what my amendment does is it's an attempt to absolutely minimize the disruption, the danger and the drama, it's an attempt to get away from government by cliff and to have a sensible approach to bringing our spending under control. it's called the full faith and credit act. what it does is says very simply, since none of us can guarantee that the debt ceiling is going to be raised on any particular date, i mean we all know how we're going to vote. we can't control anyone else's vote. we certainly can't control a single vote in the house and we can't control what the president might do. therefore, we can never know for sure whether and when and under what circumstances the debt limit will be raised, so my point is the sensible and prudent and responsible thing to do is have a plan to minimize the down side if the debt ceiling is not raised
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immediately upon reaching it. this has nothing to do, by the way, with the current circumstances of suspending the debt ceiling. this is all about the next time in may or june or july when we find ourselves facing these circumstances. so what my bill says is if we get to that point, the federal government would be obligated to prioritize three categories of spending. that would be interest on our debt to make sure that we don't default on our debt and create a financial crisis. it would be social security payments to everybody who qualifies for a social security payment so the no -- so that no senior citizen has to worry and wait to get their check. and it would be active duty military personnel so that no soldier has to worry or wonder whether they're going to get paid. by the way, what my bill does, it goes a step further and says not only will the federal government have to prioritize those three categories, but it says in the event that on any given day the tax revenue were
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not sufficient to cover those three payment obligations, the treasury secretary would be authorized to borrow additional amounts to ensure that those payments were made. so what does it do, it guarantees that it would be absolutely impossible under any circumstances to default on our debt, to miss a social security payment to anyone or to be late with the military pay to anybody. that's what it would do. it would take a little bit of the drama and the risk and the uncertainty and the potential damage to the economy off the table and allow us to have an honest, sensible discussion about how we're going to get spending under control. now, mind you, these three categories of spending, if you add them all up together cumulatively, they account for about one-third of all the spending the government is scheduled to engage in over the course of this fiscal year. ongoing tax revenue is about 3/4
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of all the spending that's going to occur. so clearly, there is far more than enough tax revenue to cover these items, but tax revenue comes in florida lumpy fashion. it doesn't come in smoothly and uniformly over the course of a year, hence the provision that allows the treasury secretary to borrow in the event that they needed to in the short run to smooth that out. but let me say something that's more fundamentally important here. this amendment is not intended to be a replacement for raising the debt ceiling. unfortunately, as long as we're running structural deficits, we're going to have to borrow money to fund that. this amendment if it were to pass and be signed into law doesn't mean we wouldn't have to raise the debt ceiling at some point. of course we're going to have to until we get to the point where we have balanced budgets and don't have to continue to run deficit spending. and by the way, i don't think that it's desirable or optimal to cross into that threshold where we are living under the rules of prioritization, because
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it's very disruptive to not be paying all the other bills on time, as we ought to. that's much better. but my point is there is something even more important here, and that is to fundamentally bring our spending and deficits under control. trillion-dollar deficits, a total debt that now exceeds the total economic output of our country. this is -- we have got a disastrous fiscal situation on our hands. it's right now costing us jobs, costing us economic growth today, and it's guaranteed to result in a full-blown fiscal crisis and a meltdown if we don't change the path we're on. the only time we have ever been able to persuade this president to agree to significant spending reductions was the last time we argued over the debt limit. and we did end up getting spending cuts as part of that. but i think the urgency of getting our spending under control and getting our fiscal house in order so that we can avoid a fiscal crisis and have the kind of economic recovery we
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need, that's what necessitates a prioritization bill so that we can take the shrill excesses and the threats that some are claiming, take that off the table and have a discussion, a real discussion, real slugses -- solutions about how we're going to get spending under control. mr. president, my strong hope is that we can bring an end to government by cliffs. senator portman has an amendment, i believe, that he's going to introduce which would prevent the danger of a government shutdown in the event that a c.r., continuing resolution, expires. it makes all the sense in the world. we shouldn't find ourselves backed up against the wall at midnight on december 31 with a great calamity threatened if we don't pass some bill that nobody's ever seen. this is a terrible way to run the government, and that's what we have been doing. so what my bill does is it eliminates the risk of default and it says let's -- it creates the opportunity for us to bring some spending discipline and
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associate it with any future debt limit increase. senator portman's bill will avert the risk of a government shutdown. i fully support his other efforts to make sure that we have a dollar in savings for every new dollar in debt we create. we have got an obligation to do that. we have already got too big a debt burden. we have got to begin curbing the problem that causes it, and that is too much spending. so, mr. president, i urge my colleagues to support this amendment. as i say, it will not have any effect on the specific bill under consideration to temporarily suspend the debt limit. it will make a much more manageable and much less disruptive discussion when we address the debt limit once again in may or june or when that day surely will arrive. and with that, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from montana.
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mr. baucus: mr. president, i have two unanimous consent requests. first i have four unanimous consents for the committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and minority leaders. i ask consent that these requests be agreed to and these requests be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. baucus: mr. president, i ask consent the following staff of the finance committee on floor privileges for the 113th congress -- ashton jenny, daniel west, eva hampel, gaven mathis, andrew fondel and brian watt. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. baucus: mr. president, i'd like to speak on two amendments. the first is offered by the senator from ohio. that is his first amendment. also i will speak on the amendment offered by the senator from pennsylvania. i think the senator from maryland, the chairman of the
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appropriations committee, will speak on the second portman amendment. mr. president, i chuckle this morning. i see two new members, very, very, very able members of the united states senate who are now members of the senate finance committee follow their urges to offer amendments immediately to bills before the senate. senator portman was doing that, senator toomey is doing that. i commend them, very much commend them for being so interested in the subject and their -- allowing their intellectual juices to flow to come up with something that's new and different and in their view might make some sense. i think part of this is because of the newly found efforts here in the senate and desire in the senate, certainly among rank-and-file members, to do
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something. what you hear around here is regular order. that's something i very much subscribe to, namely when the committees do their work. senator portman and senator toomey are certainly following that tradition by offering amendments so the senate finance committee, in this case the senate floor is doing its work with respect to the pending measure. i want to start by saying how much i appreciate the speaker's efforts, speaker boehner. the speaker has done, in my judgment, a good job by giving us a few months' breathing room here in the congress with respect to the debt limit increase. that is, by having the house pass on a bipartisan basis a measure which extends the debt ceiling limit for another several months, to may 18. that gives us a chance to figure out how we're going to get our fiscal house better in order, cut debt and deal with some other vexatious issues like the
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sequester and the continuing resolution. the amendment, i must say, though, offered by my good friend from ohio is really a throwback to an effort that was undertaken essentially a year or two ago. and with all due respect, just didn't work. what was that? namely, it was the senator's amendment, which is a -- increase in the national debt, it would be a dollar cut in federal spending. this is something that was tried, the house of representatives tried, the speaker negotiated with the president and it just didn't work. it, frankly, it led to a big confrontation, if you will, august 11 where the debt was reaching its limit, there's no agreement on spending cuts and the -- the credit agencies ban to downgrade u.s. credit.
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and it was -- it just didn't work. and i again say that's why i'm very proud of the speaker for trying a different approach. the -- it's also important to point out that the -- that if this amendment were to pass, we'd have to send this bill back to the house. we are already now on a track, a good track, for the senate to pass without amendment the house-passed bill. because if that happens, then the world knows that the united states government will not be in debt for at least may 18 and because of measures the treasury secretary can take, probably -- the debt limit -- until sometime in august. we'll be in debt, really. we have a big debt, about a $16 trillion debt. we will not reach our debt limit if the house bill is passed by the united states senate.
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it's very important, in my judgment, that -- that we pass this house amendment so that we in the senate and the house of representatives can get to work on how we reduce the debt and how we get our house in order as best as we possibly can. but i want to again thank my friend from ohio for his -- for his approach. this dollar-for-dollar has been attempted in the past. it's been rejected by the speaker of the house of representatives. it's been rejected by the majority of the house of representatives; that is, his party. this idea was once tried. it just didn't work. and i submit, with all due respect, that it wouldn't work this time either for the reasons i mentioned and for the additional reason it would just further complicate an effort t to -- to increase our debt limit for a short period of time, which allows us to work within our -- do our work. mr. president, i'd like to now turn to the toomey amendment.
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i again thank my colleague from pennsylvania, new member of the committee, for industriously coming up with an idea. i must say with total respect, i think the idea doesn't work. basically, the idea is that when the debt limit is reached, the limit would be increased only for the purpose of addressing principal interest on the debt held by the public or social security benefits and military pay. that's it. that is, the debt limit is automatically increased but only for those three reasons. and not for other reasons. that is, not for other programs that the united states government has an obligation to fund. what are some of them? medicare, veterans' benefits, disability benefits, medicaid, pell grants, special education for disabled children, highway funding. the list is extremely lengthy.
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i would just mention a couple -- i've just mentioned a couple or a few. so what happened if the toomey amendment is law? if the toomey amendment is law, first of all, we've reached our debt limit. so what are the credit markets going to think? what are credit agencies going to think? they're going to think, oh, my gosh, the united states congress has not increased the debt limit but for on a daily basis, essentially, social security, interest on the debt, and military pay. not military procurement, not men and women who are in air guard, military pay, active-duty pay is what it sounds like. then just think of what's going to happen. just think of the chaos. other people, other agencies aren't going to know whether they're going to be funded or not. they'll have no idea. it -- according to the toomey amendment law, it's up to the treasury secretary to
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prioritize. well, how can he do that when there's no money there, when the debt limit has not been increased for them? i cannot believe that this amendment, frankly, is even offered. it's just -- it's just so nonsensical, with all due respect to my friend from pennsylvania. so with respect to the two amendments being offered here, first, the portman amendment, i say to my friends, it's been tried in the past. didn't work. didn't work when the president and speaker were trying to negotiate a deal on august 11. didn't work. caused chaos in the markets. that's one of the reasons the market fell so much back in august 2011, this approach. second, this -- this amendment will -- if it's -- if it's agreed to, requires sending this bill back to the house. it will mean putting this issue of extending the debt limit increase for three months in tremendous jeopardy. i don't think we want to do that. i think it's the wrong thing to do. and the second amendment, the toomey amendment, is just
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totally unworkable. it would cause even more chaos at a time when we're trying to calm the markets, at a time we're trying get more confiden confidence, more credibility, not less. in my judgment, both amendments, especially the lateral, will require -- especially the latter, will require a lot more worry in the markets, not more confidence. more worry, month uncertainty. and it's for those reasons i think this amendment should be rejected. i yield the floor. ms. mikulski: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. ms. mikulski: mr. president, i respond -- i stand as chair of the full appropriations committee to respond to two portman amendments, will comment on one and speak to the one related to automatic c.r.'s, which is in the jurisdiction of the appropriations committee. but as to the dollar-for-dollar cuts which the gentleman from montana, the chair of the finance committee, has spoken to, i just want to say i
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absolutely support his position, agree -- and agree as an appropriator, agree with his arguments. it would make the -- the dollar-for-dollar cuts would make the boehner rule permanent, it would raise the debt limit by mandating a trillion dollars cut in spending. this amendment could allow a minority of 41 senators to dictate the fiscal policy to the majority. i ask unanimous consent that my full statement supporting the position taken by the gentleman from montana be entered into the record. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. ms. mikulski: now, mr. president, i would also like to rise to oppose the portman amendment related to automatic continuing resolutions. now, what does the amendment do? if the -- it sounds good, and i must say, i have a great admiration for the senator from
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ohio. and he has a well-known reputation for working on a bipartisan basis. he has worked so well when he was in the house with my colleague, senator cardin. and i look forward to having these kinds of discussions and seeing how we can work out some of these issues, because i think in listening to the debate, i think we all are in agreement of goals but we disagree on means. now, his amendment, as i read it, says if congress fails to pass an appropriations bill or a continuing resolution related to it, instead of a government shutdown, an automatically continuing resolution would go into effect. now, that sounds good. however, there's an additional part that says, every three or four months that congress fails to replace the c.r., it would decrease agency funding by 1% across the board. well, every -- well, that sounds
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pretty good, too, because after all, what is 1%? well, 1% every month compounded has draconian results. this amendment would set up essentially the framework for many sequesters that would go into effect automatically if congress doesn't pass that appropriation. now, i agree with the gentleman from ohio, we need to follow a regular order, which means bring up appropriations bills one by one, open, transparent, debatable. if you want to save or shave, offer amendments, it would -- if we had regular order, we would be able to pass our bills. now, you can have a situation in the congress where we haven't
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been able to bring up bills because of the filibusters, because of the dilatorious tactics of some members. we can't bring them up. we're punished for it. i oppose these amendments for three reasons. the amendment is the wrong solution. regular order is the solution. mr. president, i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: a senator: mr. president? mr. coats: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from indiana. mr. coats: mr. president, in
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deference to the senator from -- the presiding officer: we're in a quorum call. mr. coats: i'm sorry. i ask the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. coats: mr. president, in deference to the senator from maryland, i went through the same cold and cough and crud that caused her to begin coughing and so i fully understand why she needed to just take a break. and i'm more than willing to step aside when she comes back. but since i'm next up, in the interest of time, i know we are trying to move toward a vote here at 12:15. i'd like to proceed and then i'll be happy to suspend when the senator comes back. mr. president, this afternoon the senate will vote on a bill recently passed by the house to suspend the debt ceiling for four months. first, i would like to commend the house on one aspect of the legislation which i strongly support and that is the suspension of salary for members
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of congress if we do not pass a budget by april 15. as i mentioned on the floor yesterday, congress by law is required to pass a budget, but it's been nearly four years since it has done. so and as a result, the senate has blatantly ignored our legal duty, not to mention our moral duty, to enact a budget. this is completely irresponsible and, quite frankly, it's embarrassing. so if this body can't fulfill its most fundamental duty under law to pass a budget, then i say we don't deserve to get paid. however, another aspect of the bill that would suspend enforcement of the federal debt limit until at least may -- and, according to recent statements issued by the administration, possibly until august -- that concerns me. and i understand why the house has taken this approach for political, tactical reasons. but unfortunately, this decision only continues the practice of
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governing from crisis to crisis, from cliff to cliff, and pushing through flawed, haphazard legislation at the last minute, like we did with the vote on the fiscal cliff, a great example of how this body should not function. as a result of this practice, members are left with deciding between choosing the lesser of two evils. never again will i nor i believe many of my colleagues support any legislation that is negotiated in secret, bypasses the regular process where we have an opportunity to take it up in committee and amend it, if necessary, and -- and then present to the senate for debate and evaluation or amendment. never again will i support something that takes us into the wee hours of -- of the night, into the new year's eve and into new year's day and then have
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just a few minutes to try to evaluate it, with no debate, no opportunity to amend. this is no way to govern a country. it's no way to strengthen a weak economy and spur job creation. and it's no way to restore confidence among consumers and investors, such a critical factor in making for robust growth, which we are not enjoying right now. eventually, all of us have to stand up and say, enough is enough. pushing these debates up until the last minute, creating our own fiscal cliffs and passing short-term measures must cease. i've had enough of it. the people of indiana have had enough of t. the american people across the country -- enough of it. the american people across the country have had enough of washington postponing real action on the most serious challenge facing our country, mainly the out-of-control spending into furthered deficit and debt. both republicans and democrats, the president and the congress, liberal and conservative
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economists and nonpartisan people all agree that our continued increase in debt is unsustainable. and we all know that what has been fueling this fire has engulfed our fiscal house, it's spending. but our meager efforts to date to dleas looming fiscal calamity are like tryin trying to put oua five-alarm fire by an occasional squeeze of a squirt gun. i now note, mr. president, that the senator from maryland has returned to the floor, and if she would like to resume at this point, i'd be happy to yield time or suspend my remarks. ms. mikulski: is that okay with me? mr. coats: that is okay with me. ms. mikulski: i thank the senator for the courtesy. both the gentleman from montana and i have been hit by this bug. mr. coats: two weeks ago, so i fully understand what the senator is going through. ms. mikulski: little germs are doing to me what my opponents couldn't, which is stop me from talking. so i thank the senator for his
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courtesy. all i wanted to say is i oppose this amendment for three reasons. it's about cutting, not keeping the government open with 1% cuts every 90 days. the amendment should be solved by regular order, and the amendment gives up constitutional responsibility. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent my full statement be in the record. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. coats: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from indiana. mr. coats: my sympathy and empathy to the senator from maryland. having gone through the same thing, i fully understand what she's dealing with and trust that she will recover quickly. picking up where i left off, dare a politician stand here and acknowledge this? many don't want to. but the truth is this: the main driver of our debt and deficit spending is the run-away
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mandatory spending on medicare, medicaid and social security to some extent. despite those who claim that it's political suicide to touch these programs and despite the fact that none of us are saying we should eliminate these programs, this is an area where many don't want to tread. i believe these programs which provide much-needed benefits for many hoosiers and americans need to be preserved. but our goal and our challenge here is to find common ground on not how to eliminate these programs, but how to save these programs both for current retirees and for future generations. but if we don't take steps to reform these programs, we risk not only bankrupting our country; we risk having to tell the recipients of the benefits of these programs that we no
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longer can fulfill their needs and our promises. so, mr. president, it's difficult for me to support any effort to increase the debt limit when we continue to avoid taking the necessary steps to eliminate deficit spending and control our debt in the future. despite several bipartisan attempts over the last two or three years, including efforts by the simpson-bowles committee, the president's committee, the gang of six and the super committee of 12, we have failed to put together a credible long-term deficit-reduction package. how can we continue to raise the debt limit over and over again without agreeing on a way to reduce it in the future? repeatedly and thoughtlessly raising the debt limit represents a political moral hazard, a taxpayer bailout for big-government politicians who don't want to be bothered by controlling spending. congress continually increasing
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the debt limit is akin to consumers having the ability to increase their own credit card borrowing limit with no oversight. we just keep increasing the credit limit to pay for more and more spending. it's like -- it reminds me of the parent dealing with the irresponsible teenager who was given a credit card, asked to stay within the credit limits, but month after month after month continues to exceed those as the debt piles up and the interest on the debt accumulates, eventually the parent thaos take away the -- the parent has to take away the card and take the scissors and cut it up. at what point do we in the congress take the congressional credit card, cut it up and get control of our spending? i urge my colleagues and the president to focus not on how to get enough votes to raise the borrowing limit again, but focuses on how truly we can begin the essential task of
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eliminating deficit spending and reduce our debt as a percentage of g.d.p. part of what makes america so remarkable is that we have the ability in this great country to control our destiny. the problems we face are not insurmountable, but they are not avoidable either. and it's time we take a stand and do what the people we represent sent us here to do. it's time we make the changes we pledged we would make when we were seeking office. and it's time we take control of our country's financial future and put america on a path to prosperity. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from louisiana.
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mr. vitter: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. vitter: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i'm going to lay out and discuss a motion to commit which i have at the desk, and we're going to be voting on that motion to commit later today. very simple, very straightforward. in fact, i'll read it. mr. vitter moves to commit the bill, h.r. 325 -- that's the, of course, the debt limit increase which we have at the desk which we're debate -- to the committee on finance with instructions to report the same back to the senate within seven days with legislative language that makes changes in existing programs that reduce federal spending by the increased amount required by section 2-b over the fiscal years 2013 to 2022. close quote. so, mr. president, it's real simple. whatever we're increasing the debt limit by, we're reducing
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spending. and the idea is that we start actually paying for what we spend, or at least paying for the extra we're going to borrow. it's a commonsense idea, a straightforward approach. and it's not draconian. we can do it, but it starts to put discipline into the process. this bill before us suspends the debt limit until may 18. that's estimated to mean between $300 billion and $400 billion in additional deficit spending. so, under this motion to commit, that's the savings is fine, those are the cuts would make, $300 billion to $400 billion total over ten years. obviously that's $30 billion to $40 billion a year. that, mr. president, is thoroughly doable. it's meaningful. it takes some work, but it's
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thoroughly doable. and those savings would be such a small percentage. the part for this year would only be about 3% of the deficit, around 1% of total federal spending. mr. president, we can't find between $30 billion and $40 billion a year in savings, is there really a way we can agree to measure budget reforms? if we can't find those modest savings, should we really be borrowing more money to just spend and spend? let me be clear, mr. president. my limited motion is not enough. we need more spending cuts and we need more and fundamental budget reform, and we need it now. but i am proposing a reasonable first step, concrete, meaningful, as a down payment toward fiscal sanity. so this bill is short term. it's a patch.
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it's three months. but it puts us all in the right path. it's a concrete, meaningful first step. surely we should have learned by now. congress passed the last debt limit deal in 2011 but we got a credit downgrade anyway. now, as we continue just to rack up more and more debt without spending reform, without budget reform, a new downgrade has to be on the way. it's not a question of "if," it's just a question of "when." all the credit rating agencies have maintained their negative outlook, including after the fiscal cliff deal. the problem, as it was with the deal passed on new year's day, is not that we're taxed too little; the problem is we clearly spend too much. not enough folks in this building recognize that. everybody in the real world recognizes that, and certainly the credit rating agencies
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recognize that. so why don't we take this reasonable, concrete first step? again, my modest amendment is a small down payment but an important step, con cede action during -- concrete action during the time this bill would increase debt for, as we work toward a more comprehensive solution. if we're going to raise the debt limit, we must at least show the taxpayers, the credit rating agencies, the world that we are serious about getting our fiscal house in order. without this type of amendment, or in this case a motion to commit, we're not saying that in any way, shape or form with this bill. and that's why without this sort of motion to commit or a roughly similar amendment, i cannot vote for this debt limit increase. i urge all of my colleagues to join me in a bipartisan way
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around this appropriate. i think it would be a step in the right direction. and i yield the floor. mr. hatch: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. hatch: mr. president, i -- the debt limit alone under the current administration had been increased by over $5 trillion and that's simply unsustainable. not to worry, i have recently been told, we have made massive progress towards promising deficit reduction. i hear this even though we haven't seen any significant actual reduction. i've been hearing bold claims by my friends on the other side of the aisle about having attained trillions of budget -- quote -- "savings" and deficit reduction in just the past couple of years alone. they have gone so far as saying that we've had $2.4 trillion of deficit reduction legislated in
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the past two years. of course, the deficit reduction has not been realized. it represents promises and plans that even democrats seek to un undo. it's amazing to me that they make these claims. i've heard bold claims that we have somehow legislated deficit reduction totaling as much as $3.6 trillion from my friends on the other side. i've heard that deficit reduction that has been promised can be broken down to an 80-20 ratio of spending cuts to tax hikes. and while i often applaud creativity, i have to say that these deficit-reduction claims and the ratio of spending reductions to tax hikes is more than creative. it is more like enron accounting. and if you were running a company in the private sector and made such claims, you probably would end up in jail. let me make a few brief comments
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on the democrats' enron accounting of deficit reduction. first, the so-called spending cuts they identify have not yet been realized. and even they are working hard to undo some of them, if not all of them. second, the so-called spending cuts are only cuts if you are selective in the starting point that you use to measure whether spending is being cut or not. relative to what spending levels would be had -- would be had we not had a democrat spending spree, spending has increased even if you include plans put forward in the budget control act, which have not yet been realized. third, the spending cut to tax hike number thrown around by my friends on the other side of the aisle counts only one discreet tax hike, the one associated with the fiscal cliff bill.
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why do democrats want to entirely ignore that massive tax hikes associated with obamacare that have already gone into effect with more to come? fourth, spending cuts that my friends on the other side of the aisle are banking when they devised their enron accounting have not yet been set in place. until 2013 comes to a close, those spending reductions have not actually occurred. and congress has a long history of promising cuts without delivering. it is ironic for me that my friends on the other side of the aisle fight tooth and nail against any true reductions in the out-sized spending of the current administration. then when budget realities force considerations of reductions and legislation is passed promising reductions, democrats boast of
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having cut spending to reduce deficits. finally, when it comes to actually implementing any spending cuts, democrats want to undo them and replace them with yet more taxes, and that's what we're hearing from the other side with regard to the sequestration. mr. president, i believe that our country faces a large spending problem and that our debt is too big and grows too fast. i believe that presenting a picture of our finances that would pass muster only in the enron accounting department is a disservice to the american people. if my friends on the other side of the aisle want more tax hikes to pay for more spending, then they should just say so. and some of them do, by the way, and i compliment them for doing that, even though i think it's crazy. cloaking their desires in manufactured claims that we have somehow cut spending 4-1 relative to tax hikes is simply dishonest, and i don't think
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i've been wrong in calling it enron accounting. and, frankly, i'm getting a little sick of it, because they throw these figures around as though they're really tax cuts and they are not tax cuts. and they never will be, according to my friends on the other side and what their -- what their actions really show. so it's important that we get rid of the fuzz and get rid of the buzz and get rid of the phony stuff and the enron accounting and start realizing that we need to have some real tax rate -- tax reductions. and, frankly, we need to have some real spending reductions. even if we can't get tax reductions, we ought to all be working on spending reductions. we ought to be looking for every aspect of this -- of this economy, every's speblght of out of our budget, every aspect of our legislation, and we ought to be looking for as many spending reductions assist we ca
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as we can find. spending is out of control. and even today, we know we're going to be spending well over 22% of g.d.p., according to the best of estimates. when i saw the economic results of yesterday that were in the paper of this really slow grow growth, it ought to be waking everybody up on both sides of the aisle that we're not doing our jobs. and the rear we're not doing our jobs is because we phony -- and the reason we're not doing our jobs is because we phony up these numbers that really aren't spending reductions and then we act like everything's hunky-dory when, in fact, things are not -- are not hunky-dory. we're in real trouble in this country and it's inexcusable to let the greatest country in the world have to go through this type of charade because we're unwilling to face the music that every individual family in this country has to face on balancing
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their budgets and on balancing ours. well, i just think it's time to cut the charade and quit talking about spending reductions that don't materialize and amount to nothing but enron accounting. mr. president, i ask that both sides -- i ask that -- that both sides be charged for the time in the quorum -- the presiding officer: that is the order. mr. hatch: -- and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from kentucky. mr. paul: i ask unanimous consent to call up amendment number 9. the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mr. paul: i ask unanimous consent that we dispense with the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. paul: i ask unanimous consent to call up amendment number 9. the presiding officer: without objection, the clerk will
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report. the clerk: the senator from kentucky, mr. paul, proposes an amendment numbered 9. at the appropriate place -- mr. paul: i ask that the reading of the amendment be waived. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. paul: i rise today to present legislation that would stop the transfer of f-16's and abrams tanks to egypt. i think it particularly unwise to send tanks and our most sophisticated fighter planes to egypt at a time when many are saying the country may be unraveling. ironically a year ago the arab spring occurred. hundreds of thousands of people gathered in tahrir square to protest a government that was instituting martial law. ironically the current president now has instituted martial law and once again the dreaded indefinite intention is threatened to citizens in egypt. many see egypt descending into chaos. what is president obama's
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response to this? to send them some of the most sophisticated weapons we have: f-16 fighters and abrams tanks. i think this is particularly unwise, and this legislation will stop it. i think this is particularly unwise since egypt is currently governed by a religious zealot, a religious zealot who said recently that jews were bloodsuckers and descendents of aeups and pigs -- apes and pigs. this doesn't sound like the pertinent we would be sending our most sophisticated weapons to. i think it is a mistake to send f-16's and tanks to a country that detained american citizens on trumped up political charges. on a country that is still detaining egyptian citizens on trumped up charges. i think it is a blunder of the first proportion to send sophisticated weapons to a country that allowed a mob to attack our embassy and to burn
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our flag. i find it objectionable to send weapons, f-16's and tanks, to a company that allowed a mob chanting "death to america" to threaten our american diplomats. i am concerned that these weapons, some of the most sophisticated weapons in the world, someday may be used against israel. i'm concerned that these weapons threaten israel's security and that sending weapons to a country with a president who recently was seen to be chanting "amen" to a cleric that was saying "death to israel and death to those who support israel. " i think it's foolhardy to support and send arms to both sides of an arms race. we send 20 f-16's to egypt which already has 240 f-16's. we send 20 in addition. what does israel feel? they've got to have two for every one egypt has. it escalates an arms race.
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it makes it more difficult for israel to defend herself. today we have a chance to stop this folly. i urge my senators to instruct the president that we will not send any more f-16's and any more abrams tanks to the current government of egypt. thank you, mr. president, and i yield back my time. sproeup the senator from arizona -- the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. mccain: what's the parliamentary situation? the presiding officer: the senate is considering h.r. 325. mr. mccain: and how much time do i have? the presiding officer: only democratic time is remaining. mr. mccain: well, i ask unanimous consent that i be allowed ten minutes. the presiding officer: without
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objection, so ordered. mr. mccain: thank you. i speak in opposition to the amendment offered by my friend, the senator from kentucky, which would prohibit the sale, licensing, approval, facilitation, transfer, retransfer, delivery of any defense articles and services to the government of egypt, including f-16 aircraft and m-1 tanks. there are many problems with this amendment. i'd like to explain them. first, the amendment is not revenue-neutral. the congressional budget office does not provide an official score despite my request, but there is no way to avoid the basic fact that there are numerous costs associated with this amendment. the defense articles that the senator from kentucky wishes to block and prohibit are manufactured by american workers and defense companies. they have contracts to produce this equipment and american workers are doing that as we speak. if the federal government steps in as my colleague's amendment would mandate, those contracts
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would have to be immediately broken, and u.s. production lines would have to be shut down immediately. there's a cost to breaching a contract in this country, and there should be. that doesn't change just because the government is the one doing the breaching. this is also as it should be. so the senator's amendment would obligate the federal government to pay the many costs to american businesses and workers for breaking our commitments to them. furthermore, many of these defense articles have already been produced. they have already been paid for. they are technically the property of the egyptian government already. and if the congress prohibits these defense articles from being delivered to egypt, they become the responsibility of the united states government. we'll have to store them somewhere and that's not free either. in short, there are a lot of hidden costs in this amendment, and if this provision becomes law in its current form it will
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add to the national debt. this is fiscally irresponsible, and i can't support it on these grounds alone. second, and more important than the costs associated with this amendment, it's harmful to america's national security interests. i know as well as anyone that egypt is beset now with many problems. i was just in egypt two weeks ago with a bipartisan delegation of my colleagues. the muslim brotherhood-led government, which i would remind my colleagues was elected by the egyptian people, has done a poor job of governing in an exclusive and pluralistic way, establishing the rule of law and building democratic institutions. the results of the egyptian government's failings are plain to see today in the awful street violence and expanding unrest in egypt. president morsi's government has not been able to stem the violence and has often made matters worse. egyptian police seem to have neither the capacity nor